A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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Results 11-16:

To E. K. BrownOct. 7, 1946Beinecke 

Reply has been delayed by repairs of apartment. Greatly appreciates his insightful reading of her work and generally agrees with his judgments. Is not writing much nowadays because low in spirits since the deaths of her brothers Douglass and Roscoe. Yes, Death Comes for the Archbishop is her best. It was hard to find a structure to pull together so many disparate elements in the Southwest. It simply came to her one day when watching the sunset color the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that the essence of the early Southwest was the story of the missionaries from France. Devoted herself to research on it from that day. Mary Austin claimed the book was written in her house, and now a woman named Wheelwright claiming it was written in hers. Actually, mostly written in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Has always felt disappointed with O Pioneers!. Tried to put together the Norwegian and the French settlers, and they never mixed. Once, not long after it was published, met Louis Brandeis on the street and he told her that what he most liked about the novel was its sincerity of feeling for the place and people. Said that one of the writers in whom he did not find that sincerity was Edith Wharton. Never saw him again. Probably he didn't find her own next two books sincere either. Kept working and trying to learn. Believes Brown underestimates the early railroad builders; Jim Hill, for example, a person of great imagination and personal quality. Never gave great care to language per se in her books, but tried to let the language come to her that would express feeling for the subject. Is pleased by his praise of My Mortal Enemy. Agrees that Lucy Gayheart isn't very good, except in the last part, after the Gayhearts themselves are dead and the book centers on the effect they have in the businessman's memory. Wishes she'd had a better sense of form earlier in her career.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1741]


To E. K. BrownJan. 24, 1947Beinecke 

Does not yet know plans for spring and summer. Anticipates being in California for part of that time to see two brothers [Jack and James]. Will hope to meet with him when he is in town. Would have many things to talk about—such as the new edition of Shakespeare that cuts out what the editor considers unimportant. Does not want writers like John Dos Passos to be legally stopped from writing as they want, but wishes law would stop editors who tamper with classics. Brandeis's death a great loss to the work of the Supreme Court. Spent many evenings at his home during years in Boston and often saw the Brandeises at the opera. Was introduced to Mrs. James T. Fields by Mrs. Brandeis, who was a fine and intelligent woman in her own right. Life sometimes seems dreary when one thinks about the people who have gone. Remembers William Archer well; remembers being in Lady Gregory's box with him the night the Abbey players made their London debut. Saw Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. Archer helped open her mind to new kinds of theatrical drama. Looks forward to discussing their personal values when he comes to New York.   Willa Cather   [Stout #1749]


To Elsie CatherAugust 6, [1933], from Grand MananUNL-Rosowski Cather 

Elsie's letter of July 22 has just reached her; wrote to Elsie about Virginia graduation before she left New York.  Is occupied with working out rights for translations.  Is sending money for upkeep of house and yard.  Will send Pauline Kourtner two months' pay for Bess.  Will all feel easier about Bess and Will then.  Why is Will Auld's bank in such trouble? What happened to Mrs. Damerell's money?  How is Father Fitzgerald?  Will soon write to Helen Mac. Please get money to Pauline Kourtner without waiting for check.  Love to Elsie and Mollie. P.S.:  Mary Virginia spent a restful vacation in Grand Manan, but is unhappy.  Doesn't her father care about her?  Willie 


To Elsie CatherAugust 31, [1936]UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Appreciated letter, which keeps her connected to Red Cloud.  Worries about the town when reading about weather in Omaha, Kansas City, and Denver in the New York HeraldPauline and Lydia Lambrecht write that all the old settlers are moving out.  Thankful this didn't happen while father was alive.  All the world is troubled—Spain, for instance.  Food prices are causing hardships in Paris, and the Hambourgs having a difficult time.  Even Grand Manan is having poor weather that has aggravated her rheumatic shoulder.  Edith has boils from a black-fly bite.  Both have felt lethargic since the twins left, and she is not working.  Is putting off writing to Carrie, who will have a hard time with Margie's death.  Many difficult things now.  Should have been easier with mother and father, but one must fight hard when young.  Appreciates Elsie's caring for cemetery lot and encloses a check for $25, twenty for the upkeep of the lot and five for the Church Guild.  Much love.    Willie 


To Elsie CatherSeptember 5, [1934?]UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Appreciates wonderful, reassuring letter, which answered her questions about Dr. Creighton and Bess.  Feels overwhelmed by good news of Bess.  Will Elsie please take a good stock of food out there from Mrs. Burden's store so that Mrs. Kourtner can cook.  Buy them new bedding or furniture if they need it.  Is enclosing a check for forty dollars to assist with property taxes. Hopes Elsie will give Kitty work; will help her and Elsie both.  Is as pleased as the Bishop that Elsie saved the trees at the church. Bishop is an impressive man.  If West Virginia is to be at the University of Chicago, why doesn't Elsie go there for Christmas and enjoy some shows and music?  She herself always stays at the La Salle hotel. Is amazed that though she is so busy Elsie had the house painted, but a good time to do it with labor and materials cheap.  Nebraska climate always hard, but Michigan, Wisconsin, and even England are very hot and dry now.  Grand Manan seems to be the only cool place left.  Wishes she could bring Red Cloud in its entirety there for a week.  Friend of J. M. Barrie wrote to ask that she inscribe a book to Barrie, since he often reads Death Comes for the Archbishop and My Antonia.  Hard to know how to write such an inscription; he would not be pleased by anything reeking of flattery.  Would rather write a book than this, but has to do it.  Elsie should take it easy and rest after the heat of the summer.   Willie 


To Elsie CatherSeptember 21, 1940UNL-Rosowski Cather 

Knows a lot about the young Queen [Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother] discussed in enclosed article. The queen is friends with Myra Hess and Anita Gunn. The Queen's father is a poor Scottish landowner, and another daughter of a poor Scottish landowner, Lady Dolly Mackenzie, married into the Hambourg family and is very economical. Anita Gunn was raised on a farm that adjoined the Queen's before there was any thought that she would be Queen. The royal family summered in the Scottish Highlands and George [George VI, Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor] liked to play tennis with Elizabeth. As Duke of York he had no hope of ascending the throne, so could marry a poor girl. Queen Mary [Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes, Princess of Teck], being Scottish, did not object. Elizabeth a natural queen. She did lovely things in Canada; ordinary people are full of stories about her visit. Had heard a great deal about her from Myra and Anita Gunn, so was not taken by surprise. 


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